Numbering and bullets in Word docs keep disappearing

Occasional Contributor

When working as a team on Word files within SharePoint, I constantly have problems with things like heading numbering disappearing (or changing from numbers to bullets), bullets going missing or bullets turning into numbers. From what I can see, the custom list styles in the documents go missing. Other formatting things happen, like table column widths messing up. I can fix it all, PDF it, save and close, and when I open the Word doc again it's all gone haywire once more.

I was always approaching this from a Word bug perspective, but maybe it's something I'm doing wrong in regard to SharePoint. Essentially, this is my workflow:
1. Create Word template.
2. Create documents from Word template (bid response schedules, one for each).
3. Upload all files to SharePoint.

At this point, the template resides on my computer, in my OneDrive folder. As I understand it, this shouldn't be an issue because unless people play around with what template the document is linked to, it shouldn't change. However, often I found that the template had reverted back to "Normal". So, I started saving the template in a location on SharePoint (along with the documents) and making sure it was linked to it.

When the document styles go haywire, to fix it all I need to do is link back to the template and update the styles. I have a macro that has the location of the template hard coded, and it links the document to the template, updates the styles, then turns off the checkbox again. (Note: I always make sure the "update styles from template" is kept off). Whether the template is on my computer or on SharePoint, once the styles start messing up they will continue to keep messing up, so putting the template on SharePoint doesn't seem to have fixed it.

I'm outlining this process because all the forum posts I've found seem to treat SharePoint more as a space where templates are uploaded and people use the "New" button to create and then save documents straight into SharePoint from Templates that are uploaded into the site library. This is obviously not how we are using it: these Teams sites are created per project, we do our submission and then move on. I'm the only one creating documents and other people contribute to them.

Is there something I'm doing fundamentally wrong and that's why these issues happen? If not, has anyone seen this issue and worked out what causes it?

8 Replies

I see 950 people have viewed this post but there are no replies. If you've found this because you're having the same issue it would be helpful to hear from you so that we could get someone looking at this issue as I know colleagues at other companies who have the exact same issue so I believe it's a SharePoint/Teams problem when interacting with Word. It's been so long since I've worked on a project like this off a server instead of online that I can't remember if it used to happen then (I don't think it did).


Similar posts in the Office forum usually end up being referred to the SharePoint forum without any solution, so here's our chance.

Here's a picture of what keeps happening to the docs. The paragraph styles stay intact, however the list styles keep getting cleared. On the left is how it should be, and the right is what keeps happening, necessitating constant refreshing of the styles from the template to get the numbering and bullets back in. 

Screenshot 2021-09-15 092534.png



We are having the same problem with our sharepoint site and our bids, similar processes here. 


We also experience similar problems b/w Word and SharePoint. Specifically, we have lost the heading number on two of our sections in a document. However, the rest of the document is correct. Even the table of contents is correct. This occurs most often during collaboration. The most frustrating part is that when this is fixed by one of our team members, it doesn't take long before the document is reverted back to missing Heading Numbering. We do not require checkout on the Sharepoint library. I've only seen this with collaboration. 


1. Does anyone see this behavior with a library that requires checkout?

2. Has anyone tested to see if, when you check out the document, fix the format/template issue, then check it back in, does the document ever revert back to having the same issues?

@AndrewB_33334 I have also started having the same issue. I am running MS Word on MAC.


Thanks for your note. I haven't tried using SharePoint with forced check outs, as one of the main advantages is collaboration. I suspect it is multiple users that causes this to happen, as the document most usually messes up once two people have it open at once. I'd love to know why, and get Microsoft to come up with a solution as it's a huge issue given collaboration is one of their main selling points.

Edit: coming to you from my brand new creative user name as I've changed companies and had to make a new profile...



Curious if anyone ever helped you find a solution to this? I'm having the same problem and struggling to find the workaround. From what I can tell, the problem occurs because (at least in our case), the template is actually launching from a locally synced version of the company sharepoint folder. When I create a document based on this template the document template path becomes c:\Users\(myusername)\(synced sharepoint library folder name\template.dotx. When a colleague enters the same document (which also resides in sharepoint and is accessible to all parties) his/her version of the document is still pointing to the local template on my C drive, and obviously his/her computer is not finding that path. I haven't found a way to attach a document template in word to an actual network location (that doesn't include a local c drive and username in the path), so essentially every time a different person opens the file, it breaks. I do find it strange that this only applies to the automatic bullets and numbering, while not affecting the styles. Especially considering that the auto numbering and bullets in this template have been associated with styles in the template. I also was under the impression that word only calls to the template file when you first create the new document (or go to use in building blocks, etc.), so I'm not sure why it seems to happen repeatedly.


Would love to hear if anyone has found the solution for this, as it is killing the usability of otherwise very useful templates we have created.



@cdarrowNo, nothing yet. Hoping that it might get some traction because every company I've worked at has this problem so it's got to be an issue that deserves attention as it wrecks the usefulness of it.


I don't think the document losing the connection with the template affects it: I have mine linked to templates in SharePoint and they stay fairly solidly connected even though the bullets and numbering goes haywire.


I sync my SharePoint locations to OneDrive so I too have the template linked to somewhere on my local drive initially, however in each template I have a macro that changes the link to the SharePoint location (and updates the styles, which fixes the numbering and bullets again, at least until the next time multiple authors cause it to drop off).


You can link it directly to the SharePoint location if you view the site in Explorer view (which you can only do from Internet Explorer), then drag the folder containing the template into your quick access. Once there you can browse to it in the template dialog and attach the template that way.